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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

13 Comments

  1. D.N.
    September 5, 2019 @ 4:15 pm

    I’ve been waiting for this tribute since the news broke, El, and it didn’t disappoint. This was a really lovely piece.

    And, gosh, it really is a unique legacy Terrance Dicks leaves behind. In fact, it’s almost two legacies. Firstly, Terrance Dicks as script-writer and script-editor: helping usher out Patrick Troughton; co-masterminding the Jon Pertwee era; helping usher in Tom Baker; being a reliable hand thereafter to the point of managing to craft an entertaining romp at relatively short notice out of the insane laundry list that was “The Five Doctors.”

    Secondly, there is Terrance Dicks the prolific novelist. Before VHS and DVD, before regular repeats on TV, those novelisations were the only way a lot of fans could experience Doctor Who stories – and since Terrance Dicks wrote so many of those novels, fans’ first experiences of those stories were refracted through the style and sensibilities of Terrance Dicks, for better or worse.

    There have been a lot of tweets and tributes that mention Terrance Dicks’ influence on children’s literacy (Robert Webb: “It would be only a mild exaggeration to say that Terrance Dicks taught me to read,” Jenny Colgan: “Terrance Dicks helped more children (especially boys) develop a lifelong love of reading than almost anyone else who’s ever lived,” etc). That’s a pretty amazing legacy. I mean, is it possible that for a generation, Terrance Dicks was the must-read children’s novelist in Britain since Enid Blyton?

    Reply

  2. prandeamus
    September 5, 2019 @ 8:56 pm

    Thank you, El. Well worth the read.

    Reply

  3. (Not That) Jack
    September 5, 2019 @ 9:59 pm

    So here’s my Terrance Dicks story.

    I got into Doctor Who in…oh lord…1979, the run of Tom Baker episodes from Robot to Invasion of Time. First episode I saw was Pyramids of Mars episode 4, which is an odd way to start a forty year relationship with Doctor Who. (I loved it on first viewing, only figuring out years later how inferior episode four was to the remainder of it.) But that was the start. For a year and a half, I devoured those seasons of Doctor Who over and over, sometimes on a tiny black and white TV in my parents room because my sister would take over the living room TV to watch…reruns of Petticoat Junction.

    Don’t ask me to explain that show, or why my sister liked it. I half suspected she was messing with me because she saw I loved Doctor Who, and that was about her only choice on TV back then to pick. It was 1979 before 6PM, we had HBO but it hadn’t signed on yet.

    At any rate, after eighteen months of bliss, my family relocated from rural West Virginia to suburban coastal Virginia, where, much to my dismay, I discovered that Doctor Who didn’t air there. I later did some research into the early years of Doctor Who in America and discovered that while that part of Virginia was one of the first places to air that package of Doctor Who episodes, by September 1981 it had stopped airing there. And a pattern emerged in my life watching Doctor Who: it had a lot of gaps. I might have a forty year relationship with Doctor Who, but it went away from 1981 to 1983, from late ’83 to 1992 or so, from 1994 to 1996, and finally resuming in 2004 with the lead in to the 2005.

    You’re probably wondering where Terrance Dicks fits into this.

    In early 1981, I managed to convince my parents to let me start getting books from the Science Fiction Book Club, starting a long tradition of forgetting to send back the card with the monthly selections and winding up just never paying for them. And one of those books, the first one, in fact, I checked off on the sheet, was an omnibus of three Doctor Who novelizations: Genesis of the Daleks, Revenge of the Cybermen, and Terror of the Zygons (or Doctor Who and the Loch Ness monster, as it was known.)

    By Terrance Dicks.

    In early 1980, I lived in a small town in rural West Virginia with a population of just over 1000 people. In early 1981 I attended a school that had 1,500 students. Culture shock did not do justice to it. I was a kid, small for his age, bullied simply because of that, with very few friends, being steamrolled by not metropolitan life, but suburban life. And the closest thing I had to a lifeline, to a tie to when my young life made sense and there was something on TV I loved and got me through bad days, was an omnibus of Doctor Who stories written by Terrance Dicks.

    I read that book until it fell apart somewhere around 1988.

    You could take away everything else Terrance Dicks did for Doctor Who as script editor or writer of scripts or novels but those three books, and I would still be eternally grateful to the man for getting me through a lousy time at a young age.

    I’m going to miss him.

    Reply

  4. David Moran
    September 5, 2019 @ 11:17 pm

    Sad coda to all the lovely posts about what an important writer for children Terrance was.

    My wife is the Childrens’ Librarian for our home town, does nursery visits, school events and even got invited to Holyrood for The Queen’s Garden Party*

    ” Oh, ” she sadly said, “We don’t have any of his books on our shelves any more.”

    That seems wrong, doesn’t it ?

    • Footnote – at said party I bumped into my old boss who was retiring as Regional Rates Assessor, it being de rigueur that said outgoing official gets the invite

      ” Oh”, says he, ” and what have you done to get invited to This ? ”

      ” Me ? ” I replied, ” Why, nothing. I’m the guest. It’s Elizabeth who got the invite. “

    I’ve never felt so proud as watching the nonplussed expression on his face. A memsahib? Unthinkable…

    Reply

    • prandeamus
      September 6, 2019 @ 12:21 pm

      Are the Target novelisations still in print? Sorry to ask so literal a question, but paperbacks in libraries don’t usually last thirty+ years.

      Reply

      • David Moran
        September 6, 2019 @ 6:18 pm

        Some still are, and all my targets are in fine form after forty years – admittedly Dr Who And The Zarbi is in liquid form.

        Reply

      • Tim B.
        September 6, 2019 @ 7:08 pm

        There were hardback copies of at least some released (I remember Tomb of the Cybermen and War Games in my school library the best part of 40 years ago.

        They’ve had a few recent reissues around the 50th anniversary and there’s a paperback Target Collection series from last year adapting several of the new series stories in the Target format with covers in the classic Chris Achilleos style.

        Reply

  5. Austin George Loomis
    September 6, 2019 @ 2:19 am

    the equivocating liberalism and establishment fetishizing that is always the biggest check on the mercurial possibilities of the program.

    Does that mean that, in the Trinity of the Matter of Britain, he was the salt to David Whitaker’s mercury? (The sulfur, presumably, would be Robert Holmes.)

    Reply

    • (Not That) Jack
      September 7, 2019 @ 9:32 pm

      “The sulfur, presumably, would be Robert Holmes.”

      God, that’s brilliant.

      Reply

  6. Przemek
    September 6, 2019 @ 8:18 am

    Thank you. I think you really managed to to Terrance Dicks justice.

    Reply

    • John G. Wood
      September 7, 2019 @ 6:54 am

      Yes, beautifully put. Thank you.

      Reply

  7. Neil Snowdon
    September 6, 2019 @ 7:51 pm

    This is such a lovely piece, and for what it’s worth. Also worth pointing out, re Dick’s literary worth, the Harlan Ellison introduction to the Pinnacle editions of the novelisations. Ellison is obviously talking about Who as a show for much of the time, but he makes specific note of the novels that he’s putting his name to, which, let’s face it, means he’s putting his name and his recommendation, behind Dicks.

    Reply

  8. Matt Walker
    September 11, 2019 @ 9:07 am

    Thank you El; an incredible tribute.

    Reply

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